ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistan name injured Shoaib, Gul in World Cup squad


Pakistan on Tuesday gambled with injured pace trio of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul in a 15-man squad for next month’s World Cup.

After lengthy deliberations, the selectors opted in favour of the injured pacers, two of them also under shadow of a doping ban, apart from bringing in leg-spinner Danish Kaneria for the crunch assignment.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have made it clear that Shoaib, Asif and Gul have been selected subject to fitness and would be replaced if they failed to get fully ready by March 2, the International Cricket Council (ICC) deadline for any injury-based replacement.

Shoaib is feared carrying a serious knee injury while Gul is recovering from a stress fracture. Asif is nursing a few minor injuries including a painful elbow.

Shoaib and Asif are also under a cloud because of World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) persistence to challenge a PCB appeals committee decision to clear the bowlers of doping offences last December. They tested positive for banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in October.

The pace duo along with other squad members and reserves are scheduled to undergo dope tests on February 16 and according to experts Shoaib and Asif will face a life ban if they tested positive again.

Shoaib is currently in England seeking a second opinion on his knee problem while Gul is undergoing a conditioning regime in Lahore.

“The injured players selected in the squad would only go for the World Cup if they get fit over the next couple of weeks,” said PCB Director Dr Ahsan Malik.

After previously snubbing him for the one-dayers, Pakistan have included Kaneria in the World Cup squad in a bid to strengthen their attack hit hard by fitness problems.

Kaneria, 26, has just played 16 One-day Internationals (ODIs) in a career that spans over seven years. He last played in a one-dayer against Scotland last summer but was later ignored for the ODI series against England, West Indies, South Africa as well as the Champions Trophy.

The team management opted for him considering the conditions in the West Indies where wickets are expected to favour spinners. Left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman, also in contention for a spot, was overlooked.

The rest of the World Cup combination carries no surprise.

Comeback opener Imran Nazir managed to find a place in the team on the basis of a whirlwind fifty in a thumping win over South Africa in the second one-dayer in Durban earlier this month. He was chosen over Imran Farhat and Yasir Hameed.

Muhammad Hafeez was retained in spite of a below-par batting form apparently because of his abilities as a useful slow bowler.

All-rounders Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi were in even though Afridi is serving a four-match ICC ban and will have to miss two early World Cup games including the March 13 opener against the West Indies at Kingston’s Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Pakistan toyed with the idea of a reserve wicket-keeper by sending Zulqarnain Haider to South Africa but have decided to stick with only Kamran Akmal for the World Cup.

Akmal had an awful Test series behind the stumps in South Africa and has so far failed to find any batting form in the ongoing ODI contest. Veteran wicket-keeper Moin Khan had made himself available for the World Cup but he was ignored.

Also snubbed for the World Cup job was experienced all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, brought out of the cold for the one-day series against South Africa.

Fast bowler Mohammad Sami, suffering from a back injury, could not make it in the side though he is still in contention for a ticket to the Caribbean in case any of the injured bowlers fail to get fit.

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Rao Iftikhar complete the Pakistani pace attack, which at the moment, look far from threatening.

Pakistan World Cup squad: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Younis Khan (vice-captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Rao Iftikhar, Danish Kaneria.
Source:The News

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